With 10 minutes left in the second half, the tides changed for the Red and Blue.
The Quakers could never fully answer back after staying with Yale for most of the game Friday night at the Palestra, falling to the Bulldogs, 68-59.
In five minutes, Yale — which outrebounded the Quakers, 44-35, on the night — jumped to a 10-point lead, 54-44, just minutes after Penn had tied it up.
“Right now, we’re struggling,” Penn coach Jerome Allen said. “Our inability to just, not so much play with effort and enthusiasm — but our inability to believe. A team makes a run, we go out, we get a little excited, we make a couple of shots, but when the ball is not going into the basket, that affects our concentration; that affects our effort [and] our energy.”
Penn (4-17, 1-3 Ivy) had the lead or stayed with Yale (8-14, 2-3) throughout the majority of the game. But halfway through the second frame, the Bulldogs jumped ahead, led by sophomore guard Armani Cotton and freshman forward Justin Sears, who returned this game from an ankle injury.
“[Cotton and Sears] are two of our most athletic players,” Yale coach James Jones said. “The way they were tenacious on the offensive glass [made] all the difference in the world on our basketball team.”
With Fran Dougherty and Steve Rennard lost to injury, Penn suffered.
“[Dougherty] is playing the best basketball of his college career. Would I like to have it? Absolutely,” Allen said. “But with that being said, it’s a team sport for a reason.”
In those last five minutes, the game looked all but over for the Quakers.
Junior guard Miles Cartwright was held scoreless in the second frame and turned in a disappointing six-point performance on the night. The Quakers answered back for most of the night, keeping the pressure on Yale senior guard Austin Morgan, who did not begin executing until late in the game.
“We were just fortunate to have a hand in [Miles’] face whenever he shot and make everything he took kind of tough,” Jones said. “He didn’t really get any easy looks at the basket and that is what you wand to strive for.” Yale was coming off a 10-0 run and the momentum was in the hands of the Bulldogs, but then freshman guard Tony Hicks came along, almost managing to turn the ball in Penn’s favor.
Hicks — who notched 11 points on 5-for-12 shooting — led a 9-0 run for the Quakers, driving in for a layup, followed by an unopposed dunk and then a three to put the Red and Blue within one point.
Though sophomore forward Greg Louis also stepped up in the final minutes, Yale was able to maintain its lead and pull away as time winded down.
Henry Brooks also helped the Quakers’ effort, scoring 12 points on the night before fouling out.
Fouls plagued the Quakers as the clock ticked down Friday night.
The Quakers shot 36.7 percent from the field in the second frame, but it was the Yale free throws that called the game, as the Bulldogs capitalized on foul shot opportunities down the stretch, netting 15 points from the charity stripe in the second half compared to the four behind the Quakers.
“We don’t have the oomph about us right now to push through adversity,” Allen said. “So teams go on runs, we automatically start thinking, we got to play not to lose instead of playing to win.”
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